Ravens rookie Maxx Williams is the last man standing out of the team's original tight end group. With Crockett Gillmore on injured reserve and Nick Boyle on the suspended list, Williams is preparing to start his second consecutive game Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"These snaps are the most important things," said Williams, who has seven catches for 47 yards over the two games. "The only way you get better is through competition and game experience. I'm getting the opportunity right now these last few games and going into this game to get snaps to try and get better."
Williams, the team's second-round pick out of Minnesota, has had a quiet rookie season. He missed two games with injuries and was held without a catch in three other games. His 26 receptions rank seventh on the team and his 215 receiving yards are eighth. Yet Williams has labeled this season a "dream come true."
"It's the NFL, man," Williams said. "Everyone is the best there is. Everyone understands the game, everyone works hard. You really have to be at the top of your game every day or it shows. You have to come in every day with a good attitude, ready to work and just have fun."
Williams, who was drafted as a 20-year-old and is one of the youngest players in the league, said he will work this offseason to get "bigger, faster, stronger," and gain a better understanding of the Ravens' offense. Even with a father who played in the NFL, Williams acknowledged that it was difficult to prepare for everything that he faced in his rookie season.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh expressed optimism that Williams will make a second-season jump like the one Gillmore made this season.
"I'm a Maxx Williams guy," Harbaugh said. "I really think Maxx is going to be a good player. Maxx isn't always the prettiest athlete — and I think some people like Maxx and some people don't, athletically — but the guy can run routes. The guy can catch the ball. … To me, he's going to be a really good player in this league.
Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman said the game plan probably wouldn't expand too much just because quarterback Ryan Mallett is making his second start. "We're not going to get carried away. He's only been here about 200 hours," Trestman said. … Trestman said he "couldn't be more excited" about wide receiver Steve Smith Sr.'s plan to return next season.